How to Get Hired as a Software Engineer

Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager. You've just posted a job opening and you're being bombarded by applications. Hundreds are pouring in daily. You could spend your entire day reviewing each resume and not get to each one. What do you do?

You need a way to filter out the noise. It's just not possible to carefully consider each application, so you must look for the ones that stand out. Virtually every candidate will have a bachelor's degree, internship experience, and a project portfolio. Many will have all that plus a master's degree and work experience. So how do you determine who gets an interview?

How to Make Your Application Stand Out

You've just heard what the typical candidate looks like. But what does this candidate's application lack? What can you do that they aren't doing? By making yourself stick out from the crowd like a sore thumb, you greatly increase your chances of being considered carefully and making it to the interview stage.

Strategy 1: Add Color to your Resume

It may sound silly, but making your resume colorful and using good presentation is one of the best things you can do to stand out. 95+% of the resumes submitted will be black and white and crammed with text. These are difficult to read and tend to bury the important points under a wall of noise. Your resume should demand attention without being an eyesore. Be sure to put the relevant information for the specific job you apply to front-and-center in your resume.

Strategy 2: Contact the Recruiter Personally

Getting directly in touch with a decision-maker helps ensure you will be considered by an actual human being, not just resume-scanning software. It also shows initiative and demonstrates that you care about the position you're applying for. Be sure to demonstrate that you have read the job description carefully! Most applicants will not do this, they just click "apply". Send a personalized message using the recruiters name and a short statement about why you're excited about the job.

Strategy 3: Demonstrate your Value

Go above-and-beyond to show how you can be of service in the position you are applying for. Write a short and to-the-point cover letter explaining why you are great for the position. Demonstrate that you have done your background research on the company. If you are really serious about getting the job, look for open-source repositories the company may have. Opening pull requests there will show that you are capable and that you can perform to their standards.

Strategy 4: Apply to Fewer Jobs

If you are applying to every job you can find you are wasting your own time. Simply clicking "apply" is insufficient. Instead, focus your time on searching for the roles that are clearly a good fit for you. Put all your energy into 5-10 applications for positions you really care about. If you find you are lacking the particular skills for these positions, don't sweat it. You can pick 3-5 of the skills you want acquire and add them to your repertoire by building a project that puts them to use. Now when you apply you can say: "I didn't know X, but I learned it in Y weeks and built Z with it. This demonstrates my ability to learn new technologies quickly".

Keep these strategies in mind as you apply for software engineering job. Remember, the hiring manager is looking for something that sets you apart from the crowd.